Background Definition

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multisystem inflammatory disease characterised by the presence of a wide variety of autoantibodies. Skin involvement is common, being present in 55-90% of cases.1 The characteristic skin lesions can be divided into acute, subacute and chronic subsets.2 The acute forms include the malar (butterfly) rash, papular lesions, urticaria, vasculitic lesions, hair loss and painless mouth ulcers. Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE) is an uncommon form of cutaneous lupus, described as a clinical subset by Sontheimer in 1979.3 Chronic discoid lupus erythematosus (DLE) tends to be the most persistent of the skin lesions and may lead to unsightly scarring. It is most frequently seen as an isolated entity, but may also occur in people with the systemic form of lupus.

Lupus panniculitis (also known as lupus profundus), neonatal lupus, lupus tumidus and bullous lupus are less commonly encountered forms of the disease.

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